New Book To Detail Effects Of Great War On Scilly

Richard Larn

Richard Larn

A St Mary’s historian and author is writing the untold story of how the Great War affected Scilly.

And Richard Larn says he is keen to hear from islanders with stories, documents or photographs of women and men in uniform that he could include in the book, to be published next year.

One of the most obvious impacts of the First World War is the loss of life amongst men called up to fight.

But the number of Scilly fatalities is unclear.

Although there are war memorials on all of the islands, some of the names are duplicated.

Richard says that there could be between 50 and 80 locals who made the sacrifice and he intends to honour each one in an appendix.

He’s also keen to reflect how the conflict affected everyday life and he’s researching court archives to see whether there were conscientious objectors here and how they were dealt with.

Richard will be pouring over Council meeting minutes from 1914 to 1918 to see what the Town Hall was told to do to protect locals.

He says the government were worried about attacks from German battle cruisers following raids on Scarborough and Whitby.

But Richard says the war was really brought home to islanders in 1917, when a ship was torpedoed 5 miles from the islands.

The number of Royal Navy Auxiliary Patrol Service personnel was increased massively to protect shipping and lay mines and search for U-boats.

500 Navy men were based on St Mary’s along with 20 armed trawlers. That was increased by the establishment of the seaplane station on Tresco, with 1,000 military men and 14 float planes.

Richard says he intends making a 3-foot long model of one of the armed trawlers that patrolled our waters to coincide with the book launch next year.

All of the extra personnel and seapower put a strain on local resources at a time when the islands were without electricity or a significant water supply.

Supplies had to be brought in and Welsh miners were imported to shovel the mounds of coal that were loaded from Royal Naval colliers alongside the quay.

Richard says the book deal came out of the blue from a Yorkshire publishing company called Pen and Sword, which specialises in military history.

He’s keen to hear from islanders with any information and he really wants to view letters sent home by men serving on the front.

You can contact him in 423 679.

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